What they don't tell you: the pressurized portafilter
From the Saeco machines sold at Home Outfitters to the Starbucks' home line, the majority of machines under $450 dollars use what is known as a pressurized portafilter. The pressurized portafilter produces what experts refer to as "frothed coffee." The pressurized portafilter contains a mechanism that won't allow your espresso to be extracted until the pressure inside the portafilter reaches a certain level. When it does reach this level, the espresso goes through two outlets: the mesh of the basket, and a pinhole sized valve underneath that basket. When the espresso goes through that valve, any true crema is destroyed.
Have you wondered how Starbucks justifies selling the Barista home machine? One would think it might be dangerous to their margins: if everyone had a Barista machine, wouldn't their stores be empty? The reality is, they can sell their home machines because without a proper portafilter or grinder and be assured the coffee they make in stores is still better than that produced with their home machines.